Office culture is dependent on the people, but it’s dependent on the physical, too. Office workspaces provide more than just a place to work. They can help organizational health by providing an environment that fosters collaboration and productivity. And, they aid in recruiting top talent whose first impressions are in part shaped by the office space. No matter the industry or the size, corporations can reap the benefits of a thoughtfully designed workspace.
As companies strive to enable stronger relationships, more attention is being placed on workplace design and construction. But, building office connectedness is not simple. It requires a team of experts to creatively and cost-effectively design and build a workspace that unites people across departments and experiences.
At Skender Construction, one of the nation’s largest building contractors, we have helped many organizations build out inviting workplace interiors. As the person responsible for our own company culture, I’ve seen firsthand how the physical space influences personal interactions.
Through our work on our headquarters and for our clients, we find that these “three Cs” tend to contribute most to promoting collaboration and well-being.
First C: Communal spaces
Forget the cold marble lobbies and imposing reception desks of yore. Inviting lobbies or entrance areas set the tone for employees, guests and prospective employees. They can also be a space for spontaneous conversations to occur – especially when they incorporate varied, casual seating areas and Wi-Fi lounges.
At Skender’s headquarters, we implemented an open reception environment, or “hub” space, that features a reception desk, café/kitchen, transparent meeting rooms and the “Lodge,” which offers a leather sectional sofa, comfortable seating, flat panel television and record player. Employees from any department can walk through the common area, view meetings in progress and engage in casual conversion or work in a non-traditional environment.
Second C: Conference rooms
Conference rooms don’t typically elicit warm thoughts from employees, but they’re certainly critical to business success. Consider what elements would flip the old perspective on conference rooms.
Modern, centrally located, glass conference rooms welcome more natural light and foster productive teams. They also help reinforce a culture of transparency and trust.
Technology is key, too. Smart meeting rooms outfitted with the latest videoconferencing technology and fast network connections enable stronger inter-office relationships.
As more companies adopt open-plan environments, it’s important to provide ample conference rooms of varied sizes to give employees options for privacy, such as call rooms and wellness rooms, and quiet places to work when necessary.
Third C: Central gathering places
Beyond communal spaces, adding flexible rooms and zones intended for non-traditional gatherings can enhance employee relations and encourage innovation. Kitchens, cafés and game rooms are a major draw and help the office feel more home-like. They also bring together employees from across departments who may not otherwise have work-related interaction.
Take into account the message you send employees when you devote more space to communal gathering areas than you do private, executive offices. It’s a big signal that an inclusive culture is important to your mission.
Don’t be afraid to let creativity rein free here. These spaces also are a good place to showcase your company’s personality – through commissioned artwork and branded, interactive message boards for communicating to employees.
Three Cs Build One Big C: Connectivity
With a focus on well-designed, interconnected communal spaces, conference rooms and central gathering places, your company can create a workspace that enables collaboration and supports its culture. Think about how your employees interact now – and how it can be improved by the physical space in which they work.